Are Rooney wages ‘obscene’?

‘Obscene’ is a word that has been used a great deal in the last few days to describe Wayne Rooney’s enhanced wage packet. However, although he earns in a week many times what I have earned at peak in a year, I don’t feel envious.

Footballers provide entertainment, or at least they should, which is something that I have rarely done. I would be more concerned about whether relatively mediocre players are overpaid, although admittedly there is something of a ‘cascade’ effect.

‘Obscene’ is a word that has been used a great deal in the last few days to describe Wayne Rooney’s enhanced wage packet. However, although he earns in a week many times what I have earned at peak in a year, I don’t feel envious.

Footballers provide entertainment, or at least they should, which is something that I have rarely done. I would be more concerned about whether relatively mediocre players are overpaid, although admittedly there is something of a ‘cascade’ effect.

I do think that it was a poor decision by Manchester United which smacked of desperation. I question whether they will get value from the deal over the length of the contract, even if he is eventually sold on. If he picks up a serious injury, it will look like a worse bargain.

However, I would defend the right of an employer to pay an employee what they think they are worth in a market economy, also bearing in mind that most of his salary will attract the top rate of tax. The Soviet Union had a maximum ratio of 5:1 in salaries, although in practice the ‘nomenklatura’ had all sorts of privileges such as dachas, shops open only to them selling western goods, chauffeurs of admittedly clunky cars, and masseuse. But Britain is not the Soviet Union.

It was good to see Tony Evans, the football editor of The Times, taking a similar view in yesterday’s edition of the Times. He echoed an argument that I have made in the past which is that really irks many people is seeing someone from an under privileged background with limited educational achievements making a lot of money. As Evans said, Rooney ‘is a poster boy for those prejudices’. As Evans points out, the view that someone like that should not get paid so much money for kicking a ball around is ‘simple snobbery’.

Evans also asks why no resentment is directed at those who make fortunes in the music industry, often on the basis of seemingly limited talent whereas being a top level footballer demands hard work in training and real skill. It may be, as Evans suggests, that music making is seen as a more creative activity.

As for high ticket prices, Evans argues that the television companies should ring fence some of the money in the next deal to help reduce them. It is not in their interests to play to half empty stadiums.

Leave a Comment